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Re: [RC] [Guest] Adios - Tiffany D'Virgilio

on 9/26/03 6:57 AM, Ridecamp Moderator at ridecamp-moderator@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

I feel that many of the horses were over ridden at the PAC.  The terrain
was difficult, the elevations were high, the temperatures were extreme.  As
a result, I saw approximately half of the horses pulled because of lameness
or metabolic failures.  In my opinion, many, many horses were in extreme
danger of death due to metabolic failure.  The vets and assistants treated
and kept the IV's running on several horses all night long, with no break,
virtually saving several horses' lives.  I can only state, after being
there, that the vets showed utmost responsibility, professionalism, respect
and extreme care to the horses that were treated by them.  At no point did
I ever see anything but total integrity in handling of the horses by vets
and staff.

I'm going to say it. This whole discussion and this post in particular are
extremely disturbing to me.  Especially as a person who has only been doing
endurance rides for over a year. You all spend so much time telling us new
guys to go slow, all about the welfare of the horse, but when it comes down
to the big guns at the big rides (races, quite obviously) they ride the
horses to the point of lameness, metabolic failure and death. We saw this at
the WEC, past PAC's, this one, Pam-ams, etc.

Shouldn't the most experienced riders show their concern about the welfare
of the horse too? Is the top echelon of our sport exempt from "To finish is
to win"? Has it only become to win is to win? The symptoms that Darolyn
described in both her horses that died scared me. I would have rather died
than to push a horse that I knew wasn't right.  Running up front at this
elite level seems to be darned detrimental to these horses. I live in the PS
region and at each of the 4 rides I have done, I saw no horse in treatment.
The rides all have lots of elevation change, temps that went from 115 to
about 50 degrees. 

Does anyone bother to think of what these "championship" rides show to the
newer and less experienced endurance rider? To me championship means a
healthy, happy, sound partner at the end of a ride. Not horses in treatment
and horses on the verge of death. I'm sorry if it is totally politically
incorrect of me to pose these questions. I will say that this has cemented
two things for me. 
I want to keep pursuing this sport.
I will never probably ever try to top ten or win a ride.

I love me horse-so much so that her welfare is always before mine. At
Cinquenta Anos we would have top 10'd. However, I was launched into some
slate and paid with a trip to the hospital. I thank God it was me and not my
mare. I noticed that she was more tired and a little more...I don't know,
something intangible, but just not quite right.  Our pace was MUCH faster
than ever before.  She still VC'ed with all A's. She was just a little more
tired than usual on the big hills and that was a worrisome thing to me. At
that point we started going much slower with me walking and stopping
frequently for water and rests.
Thank you God for letting me get hurt before I could hurt my mare by letting
her run too fast for too long.  And another big thanks for a lesson well
learned by not only that day, but the stories of horses pushed past their
physical limits.  This has driven home that I do this sport because I love
my horse, I love riding, and I adore most of the people I have come across
so far in this sport.  I DO NOT  do this sport or riding for anything other
than that.  Not for recognition, not for prizes, but for doing something
that makes both my and my mare's souls soar.
I'm afraid that running up front confuses that issue now more than ever.

I really believe that those at the top of this sport have a responsibility
to the sport itself. Which I think means doing what is right by the horses
involved.  I know there are MANY top riders who care deeply about their
mounts, what scares me is again that some seem to have a motto of "to win is
to win".  I need to go read Julie's book again. It heartens me greatly when
these discussions come up.



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[RC] [Guest] Adios, Ridecamp Moderator